Will Cathcart

  • Age
  • Title
    Head of WhatsApp
  • Company

Will Cathcart leads WhatsApp, the world’s most popular chat app. Formerly a spam fighter for Google and Gmail, Cathcart joined Facebook in 2010. During his tenure, he steered various projects until taking charge of product management for Facebook’s flagship Big Blue app in 2018. After WhatsApp founders Brian Acton and Jan Koum split—along with another former Facebook executive, Chris Daniels—following disagreements with CEO Mark Zuckerberg over the messaging service’s direction, Cathcart took the reins. Since assuming command last year, Cathcart has staked out a position as a staunch cyber-crusader. In October, WhatsApp initiated a lawsuit against an Israeli spyware firm, NSO Group, that allegedly helped hack 1,400 of the app’s 2 billion users. Cathcart has also championed strong encryption, a technology that protects data (such as WhatsApp conversations) from would-be snoops. Critics of encryption say the technology helps lawbreakers evade investigation. Cathcart remains steadfast. “We all want people to have the ability to communicate privately and safely, without harm or abuse from hackers, criminals or repressive regimes,” Cathcart wrote in an open letter to various international government officials, including U.S. Attorney General William Barr, a strong encryption opponent, in December. In a note to Fortune, Cathcart adds: "I hope that this pandemic teaches everyone that as we live more of our lives digitally, the strong security that comes from end-to-end encryption is not negotiable."

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